Join NICWA and the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada as we discuss the Touchstones of Hope, a movement to redesign services, including child welfare services, for Indigenous children and families to embed Indigenous ways of caring for children and families into child welfare systems, policies, and practices.
This seven-part, bi-monthly, dialogue series invites Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples from the United States and Canada to actively engage in conversations about the five principles that are the foundation of the Touchstones of Hope: self-determination, holistic approach, culture and language, structural interventions, and non-discrimination. The dialogues will explore topics related to the Touchstones principles and how these principles can be applied in the reform of child welfare.

What are the Touchstones of Hope?

The Touchstones of Hope movement supports Indigenous communities, American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and First Nations, and organizations in redesigning child well-being services, so these services promote the best outcomes for Indigenous children and families in ways that are culturally specific, equitable, and promote grassroots control.

The movement was created in 2005 at an international convening of Indigenous and non-Indigenous child welfare leaders in Canada, and the United States, with help from Indigenous representatives from Australia, New Zealand, and Central and South America. The convening was facilitated by a team from South Africa that oversaw the dismantling of the apartheid child welfare system. Participants gathered to discuss the growing crisis of Indigenous children overrepresented in the child welfare system. Together we explored the history of child welfare, the reasons behind the growing number of Indigenous children and youth entering the foster care system, and the values and beliefs needed to reshape the child welfare system to better serve Indigenous children, youth, and families.

The leaders believed that the success of this movement would also be dependent on reconciliation. Reconciliation consists of four non-linear steps. The reconciliation process includes Indigenous and non-Indigenous people truth-telling about the harm the child welfare system has done to families, acknowledging that a new path forward is necessary, restoring by making changes to redress harm and ensure it doesn’t happen again, and relating by working respectfully together toward our vision of a new system.

These conversations and actions led to the creation of Reconciliation in Child Welfare: Touchstones of Hope for Indigenous Children, Youth, and Families. The reconciliation process is guided by five Touchstones of Hope principles, or values and beliefs that are defined and brought to life by those involved in the movement. The five principles reflect the unique context of Indigenous communities, tribes and First Nations, and organizations and serve as the foundation of the movement. The principles are:

  • Self-Determination: Indigenous peoples are in the best position to make decisions that affect their communities and lead the development of laws, policies, research, and practice.
  • Culture and Language: Indigenous cultures are ingrained in all theory, research, policy, and practice that affect their communities.
  • Holistic Approach: Approaches to working with Indigenous communities recognize and reflect the distinct realities of the whole community including culture (traditions, spirituality and social customs), language, environment and socioeconomic factors.
  • Structural Interventions: We stand up to injustices to protect the rights of all Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, including children and youth.
  • Non-Discrimination: Indigenous peoples are entitled to equal access to resources and services that are responsive to their needs and the unique cultural context of their experiences.

Learn more about the Touchstones of Hope.

Touchstones of Hope Dialogues

Touchstones of Hope: Introduction
Monday, November 16, 2020
11:00 – 12:30 pm PST / 2:00 – 3:30 pm EST
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Touchstones of Hope: Non-Discrimination
Friday, January 22, 2021
10:00 – 11:30 am PST / 1:00 – 2:30 pm EST
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Touchstones of Hope: Self-Determination (Part 1)
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
10:00 – 11:30 am PST / 1:00 – 2:30 pm EST
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Touchstones of Hope: Self-Determination (Part 2)
Tuesday, May 18, 2021
10:00 – 11:30 am PST / 1:00 – 2:30 pm EST
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Touchstones of Hope: Holistic Approach
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
10:00 – 11:30 am PST / 1:00 – 2:30 pm EST
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Touchstones of Hope: Culture and Language 
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
10:00 – 11:30 am PST / 1:00 – 2:30 pm EST
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Touchstones of Hope: Structural Interventions
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
10:00 – 11:30 am PST / 1:00 – 2:30 pm EST
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About: Partnership

The First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada (the Caring Society) is a national non-profit organization ensuring that First Nations children and their families have culturally based, and equitable opportunities to grow up safely at home and in their communities, be healthy, get a good education and be proud of who they are and where they come from.

The National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) works to support the safety, health, and spiritual strength of American Indian and Alaska Native children along the broad continuum of their lives. NICWA supports tribes in building the capacity to prevent child abuse and neglect through positive systems change at the state, federal, and tribal levels. We are the most comprehensive source of information on American Indian and Alaska Native child welfare.